National

Kerala Legislature announces smooth transition to free software

Vinson Kurian Thiruvananthapuram | Updated on March 12, 2018

kerala

The Kerala Legislative Assembly has made a significant transition to the free software platform for recording its voluminous business.

The Speaker’s announcement to this effect a couple of days ago represented a milestone not just for the IT Department of the Niyama Sabha, but also for the International Centre for Free and Open Source Software (Icfoss) based here, the larger free software community, and free software enterprises in Kerala.

WINDOWS XP BLUES

The withdrawal of support for Windows XP by the vendor also had a role in the Kerala Government ordering that all departments consider migrating to free software.

The Assembly uses a significant amount of computing for conducting its routine business involving large volumes of text, strict timelines, and exacting requirements in layout and content.

On an average day during the Assembly Session, 80 operators from eight branches of the Kerala Legislature Secretariat key in over 500 pages of text, most of it in Malayalam.

These are laid out to Legislative Secretariat standards, proof-read, printed and produced in a book form before the end of working hours everyday.

FORMAL RECORD

Given the fact that these records represent a formal record of the proceedings of the House, the importance of these documents cannot be overemphasised.

The Legislative Secretariat had decided to transition its large workforce several months ago in response to the State Government's decision to move to free software.

It approached the Icfoss for technical support for this migration. The original request was for training users in GNU/Linux preloaded in the new PCs supplied to the Legislative Secretariat.

Icfoss provided initial training to the users and then moved on to the larger task of transitioning the day-to-day business to free software platforms.

For this, it used the services of Zyxware Technologies, a company that provides different services in the free software domain. The transition took three months to complete.

CHALLENGES OVERCOME

“The migration was a prestigious project. Despite challenges — complexities related to volume and speed as well as retraining staff and reengineering workflows — we managed to execute it in time,” said Satish Babu, Director, Icfoss.

Many institutions and individuals resist migration to free software because of fear, uncertainty and doubts about the feasibility of such migration, he said.

Sooraj Kenoth, IT consultant from Zyxware Technologies, was of the view that once a clear sense of direction was identified and the right technology partner chosen, implementation was easy.

Zyxware had overseen the technology transition at the Legislature Secretariat.

It was enabled by Malayalam computing tools provided by community initiatives such as Swatantra Malayalam Computing and the Libre Office, he acknowledged.

Thomas P Thomas, CEO, Zyxware said: “Credit goes to the IT department at the Niyama Sabha which stuck to their decision to migrate. The willingness and passion to adopt the new system was remarkable.”



Published on July 18, 2014

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